As told to John Jannuzzi
Photographs by Meredith Jenks
In efforts to broaden the horizons of pants-wearers everywhere, every now and then, we sit down and chat with a pants-wearer we admire — a role model, if you will. For this installment we spoke with GQ senior editor Chris Gayomali and learned about why he's into baggy fits (for him, that means our Athletic Fit Stretch Washed Chinos in case you were wondering), how his dog changed him, and even got serious and talked diversity in media.
Bonobos: So, Chris, can you briefly explain what you do?
Chris: Sure! My job is a bit of a twofer. I edit the culture section of GQ.com — politics, news, sports, tech, relationships. It's a real jack-of-all trades, master of none situation. On a day-to-day level my basic editorial philosophy is to do the opposite of whatever a certain subphylum of the New York Times Opinion section happens to be doing, and to do it in a thoughtful and maybe funny way. (Kidding! Mostly.) I also edit stories for the print magazine, most recently this firecracker of a profile of David Byrne by the GOAT Alex Pappademas, who somehow got him to utter the phrase "turd emoji." It's a fun place to work. I'm too much of a coward to say this this to anyone's face but I get to edit some of my favorite writers in the world, a handful of whom I grew up reading. It's still a trip sometimes.
That's fun. So what neighborhood do you live in, how'd you guys settle there?
My fiancée Judy and I live in Clinton Hill with our large adult son, Bronson. (Bronson is a dog.) When we decided to move in together, Judy and I wanted to try living in a new building that was charmless and unobtrusive (i.e. didn’t have mice) and had central AC and laundry in the basement. I guess the vibe we were going for was "sellout but without the finance salary." Since our place is close to Pratt, most of our neighbors are super fashion-y college students; it's basically a dorm except everyone owns a pair of Balenciaga speed trainers. For the most part it's normal until you’re chitchatting in the elevator and someone asks you how studying for finals is going, which I guess is better than the alternative. We hope to stick around until our landlords realize the acreage would be more profitable as an Equinox-Whole Foods.
Tell us about your boy Bronson. He's on Instagram, right?
Oh man. This fool turned me into the kind of person who uses words like "doggo" in earnest. Bronson is a trip. His farts are noxious, his snores register on the Richter scale, and he's like twice the size of a normal Frenchie, I think upwards of 40 pounds at the moment. We think he's the Shaq of French bulldogs. The only problem is his brain is still wired like small yippy dog, so he'll plop down on you all doe-eyed and it'll feel like a Yokozuna banzai drop on your chest. We're lucky, though. A friend of a friend adopted him from a bulldog rescue down in Florida, and we inherited him when her circumstances changed and he needed a good home. So, yes, in conclusion, Bronson is perfect. You can follow him on Instagram at @BADBOYBRONBRON.
If Bron Bron were to wear pants, how would he wear the pants?
Inverted and on his head like a jester hat.
Enough about him, what about you? Are you more of a big pants wardrobe kind of guy or do you have a couple standbys that are always in the rotation?
I have way too many pants. It's a shame you can only wear one pair of pants at a time, really. When I find a pair I love I'll usually over-wear them until the crotch becomes threadbare and translucent like a church window into my butt. Right now it's a rotation between these stretchy chinos from you guys, cropped Yohji Yamamotos with a weird silk-ribbon drawstring, a few pairs of cotton-ripstop trousers from Engineered Garments, and these thicc jeans from a denim brand called Kapital.
What's your ideal pants fit? Do you like them roomy? Fitted? Hemmed? Cut? Rolled? Stacked? A little stretchy? Just paint us your dream pants, but with words.
Big pants fan here. You know how some guys get dressed sneakers-first and then work their way up? I tend to start with the pants and then throw on a bunch of stuff around that. Usually, I prefer my pants on the roomier side, with either a little bit of a break or just slightly cropped. I'm glad baggier is back because (1) it's nice being able to carry around a wallet that's larger than a cardholder again, and (2) it takes me back to the late-'90s AzN aesthetic of my youth when I peaked and would occasionally rock a Van Exel jersey.
Obviously, your work puts you at an advantage for style inspiration, but do you have other places you look to for ideas? Instagram? Just dudes on the street? The Met Ball red carpet?
My closet rotation is pretty tightly edited down to be interchangeable and mostly workwear-derivative (lots of chore jackets and hats) paired with cool shoes. Every few months I'll stop by Kinokuniya in Midtown and pick up a Japanese menswear magazine or two. (I really like 2nd.) I used to lurk Superfuture pretty heavy, and while I don't check it much anymore I'll occasionally take a peek to get an idea of what the cool teens are wearing. Now I mostly just preview whatever the GQ Style guys have loaded in our CMS and sandbag everyone by occasionally buying stuff before the article goes live. It's a perk, I guess.
From where you sit, you've got an interesting purview on media. In your role as an editor, are you seeing any shifts? To us, it seems like you've been a big part of bringing some diverse contributors to the landscape. Could you discuss that a little? (Getting serious now.)
It's a funny thing. On one hand, journalism is smarter, more ambitious, and more inclusive than it's ever been, but it's still an industry that's whiter than a singalong at an Imagine Dragons banjo set. Granted that's changing in real and meaningful ways, and GQ is pretty good at publishing diverse writers from a variety of backgrounds (on that note, please pitch us!). But it can occasionally be dispiriting that these improvements are happening as the online media business implodes because our metrics are fickle and budgets are contingent on how many people accidentally click on an ad for luxury SUVs. I'm optimistic that media is in the middle of a course correction after a few years of funneling low-calorie content down readers' throats like their livers were going to be harvested for foie gras, and I'm confident that there will always a market for great non-fiction storytelling. But in the meantime, I guess, subscribe to GQ, please?
I'd assume that there are a lot of dudes out there who'd like to have a life like yours. Cool job, cool dog, apartment, vibes, etc. Do you have any words of wisdom for a young guy trying to break into writing or magazines?
My parents both immigrated from the Philippines and the only books in our home growing up were, like, leather-bound Bibles locked in the curio and the semi-occasional Harlequin drug store pickup. So it wasn't until my junior year that I really even started reading regularly, shout out to Ms. Leaney and the Long Beach Unified School District. I feel like I've spent most of my adult life playing catch-up with my more literary peers. This is hardly novel advice, but if you're looking to write in a professional capacity, especially non-fiction, read as much as you can! It's never too late. Read extremely bad fiction; read non-fiction; read writers you love stylistically; read writers whose opinions you agree with to learn structure and pace; read writers you might disagree with but are at least making their arguments in good faith; and put yourself in a position to fall down rabbit holes where you can indulge your curiosities, even if that might mean you're devouring hyper-gory manga that deals with existential questions about alien gods at 3 A.M. on Tuesday or whatever. Read stuff that isn't on the Internet, especially. When you first start out writing, you're mostly imitating other people, so it helps to draw from a variety of sources so that the melange is less traceable lol. With any luck might even find your own voice one day!
Also, if you're a young writer, maybe don't tweet too much. You're giving all your good ideas away for free and I'm 97% certain Twitter is rewiring our brains to only respond to sugar highs.
You've got a finger on the pulse of culture right now, so what should we be paying attention to? Be it books, magazines, Instagram accounts, or anything else?
2. I spent the last year and some change after the election going down a rabbit hole of sci-fi authors like Ted Chiang and Cixin Liu. Anyone whose imagined perspective felt wide and massive that could shrink our current reality down a smidge. My favorite book was Ken Liu's The Paper Menagerie, which is gorgeous and devastating and deals with themes of colonialism and filial piety that wrecked me on a spiritual level. (His Dandelion Dynasty series is also great if you want something George R.R. Martin-esque but with assassins on kites.) I just started In the Country by Mia Alvar, which isn't science fiction but deals with the Filipino diaspora and displacement and guilt in an elegant and beautifully-paced way. Perhaps I am going through some stuff!
3. My music tastes nowadays are kind of catholic. Right now a vibe for me is Manila Sound-era bands like VST & Co., who made these funky facsimiles of American disco in the late '70s while under martial law. "Tayo'y Magsayawan" is a jam. I've also been revisiting a lot of emo-ish stuff: Saves the Day, The Used (lol), Converge. I've been feeling this crunchy pop-punk band that I think already broke up called Jank that just re-released their album Versace Summer on streaming. Highly recommend the title track.
4. My old colleague Caity gaslit the whole office into watching Coco, which, to her credit, turned out to be the greatest cinematic achievement of the 21st century. Judy and I finished Phantom Thread recently, which was phenomenal, and the first thing I said was "Well, it was no Coco."
5. GQ is dope, too. Subscribe to GQ and please click on all our banner ads on GQ.com for luxury SUVs.
Any guys you look up to in life? Guys you would consider a role model of sorts?
Final thing. Why do you have a recorder? Do you play the recorder?
I bought it offline as a joke for Judy after we stumbled on a YouTube video of a kid who was jamming to Linkin Park's "Numb." Dude just murked it. Only Judy turned out to be kind of a recorder prodigy and now the goal is to use it as an Ocarina to summon Bronson.